I asked my friends on Facebook if they had any special requests for book lists they would like to see on School of Good Books, and my friend Libby met my challenge. She explained that when she chose classic books to read to her sons, she often reached for the books she loved most as a girl. As a result, their reading had become heavily weighted toward books starring girls. She had read the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, but was looking for more classic books starring boys, especially ones where the boys showed good character.
Since my older three children are all girls, and we have been happily reading all my favorites starring girls, this proved to be quite a challenge for me, especially since I didn't want to recommend something I hadn't read. That may explain why some of these are short books, but definitely worth the read. I can't wait to read these to my girls too.
Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
Growing up on a mountain farm. Peter adopts a special black lamb as a pet, and as he learns to care for it and the other sheep from his wise older shepherd friend, Benj, he also learns about responsibility, self-sacrifice, and caring for others. A simple story, but very rich.
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody
I had seen this series of books referred to as "the boy's Little House on the Prairie," so I thought it might be great for this list. My husband Brent really enjoys farming memoirs so I asked him to read it on a business trip. When he got home, he had to stay up late reading it, and then requested several more books from the series from the library. Like Little House, these books are autobiographical and tell the story of Ralph Moody and his family as they try to build a ranch in 1906 Colorado. Brent was especially impressed by the strong father/son relationship in this book. Warning: this first book does have a sad ending.
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
Marguerite De Angeli won a Newbery Medal for The Door in the Wall. Set in the Middle Ages, it's the story of a young boy, Robin, who must find a way to overcome a disability and show great courage to save the day. For older readers interested in the Middle Ages, Crispin and the Cross of Lead by Avi is a must read.
The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff is the legend of William Tell as told by his twelve-year-old son. It's a story of courage and resistance in the fight for Switzerland's freedom. This book illuminated a part of history, I knew very little about, and was a great adventure story as well.
Brent is a big fan of the whole genre of boy-survivalist children's fiction and My Side of the Mountain and its sequels are a great example. Unhappy in the city, Sam decides to try life on his own in the Catskill mountains. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen are other classic survivalist books.
Just David by Eleanor H. Porter
I found Just David in a list of must-read books in Read for the Heart: Whole books for Whole-hearted Families by Sarah Clarkson. David's father has raised him in seclusion surrounded by beauty in nature and music, but when David is orphaned, he must learn to find his way in a world where life is not so simple or kind. David's love of beauty, kindness, and extraordinary musical talent shine affect everyone in this new world. The first quarter of this book is quite sad so keep that in mind if your children are sensitive, but the healing and redemption are worth the read. This book is hard to find in print but available as a free Kindle book on Amazon.
Looking for more great read-alouds for boys?:
Top 10 Read-Alouds for Boys by Walking by the Way
Living Books Library: Top Picks for Boys
Books for Boys at Story Warren
Any books you would add?